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Carl Martin PlexiRanger review

A Plexi-style drive and booster that makes for a classic twofer

  • £159
Carl Martin PlexiDrive
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Our Verdict

Pairing a Rangemaster-style boost with Plexi crunch stirs the blood of any guitarist weaned on the big beasts of classic rock, and yet the PlexiRanger is not just for the retro set. It is a practical solution for any player seeking extra heat and harmonic mojo from their tube amp.

Pros

  • Incredibly versatile.
  • Convenient format and well thought-out pedal.
  • The frequency range on the boost is very generous.
  • Lo-cut switch is excellent for a low-end quick-fix.
  • Classic tones.
  • Excellent price.

Cons

  • Nope... You can't argue with this.

What is it?

In the pantheon of electric guitar tone, pairing a British valve amplifier with a treble booster that is hitting the amp until it gives up its stash of hot, juicy overdrive is one of the classic combinations, and it is one that Danish pedal company Carl Martin knows well.

Carl Martin is a specialist when it comes to amp-like overdrive. There are no prizes for guessing how the Plexitone or AC Tone stompboxes sound. Nor should there be for the PlexiRanger – an overdrive and Dallas Rangemaster-style boost pedal with two footswitches for operating either side individually or in tandem.

Performance and verdict

Carl Martin PlexiDrive

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

The right-hand side of the enclosure is occupied by the boost. Here you can dial in up to 15dB of pure volume boost, with a lo-cut switch that offers two options for whittling off bottom end flab or helping to brighten a dull amp/guitar combo.

But when it comes to frequencies, it's flexible. The Freq knob lets you hone in a wide range of frequencies and once you've selected what you want to boost, simply adjust the Range knob to boost those frequencies to your liking. It's as easy as pie and yet what this can do for your sound is most transformative.

Also consider...

Plexi-Drive

(Image credit: Future)

Wampler Plexi-Drive
That vintage Marshall tonal flavour and crunch is certainly apparent. Classic rock tones are delivered with ease as you turn up the wick, but there's also a range of lower-gain overdrive that doesn't immediately scream the 'M' word.

• Boss JB-2 Angry Driver
A dual-function pedal and a moment of genius from JHS Pedal's Josh Scott, the Angry Driver pairs the Boss BS-2 Blues Driver with JHS Pedals Angry Charlie and houses it in one Boss enclosure. Lots of options.

• Friedman BE-OD Deluxe
A roaring beast of a pedal that will add two channels of Brit-style driven amp distortion to any amp. If you are looking for a Marshall-esque tone in a box with an amp-like layout, this is an excellent option.

Run it in the background, the always-on tone-sweetener, or pick out a frequency that you really want to jam and let it do its thing accordingly. One obvious use would be a precision strike in the upper-mids to let you cut through a mix when taking a solo, but similarly, you could apply this to the low-end when you need to put a little muscle on your riffs.

Of course, valve amplifiers of all flavours love this sort of abuse. They can't get enough of it. You could argue that rock players aren't getting enough out of their amp until they've got a booster working its magic. That was the case in the 60s and 70s. That is the case now. It's a tried and tested performance enhancer.

Now, the overdrive. This, as the name suggests, offers a variety of crunch that's heavily sauced by Marshall. It is not a high-gain overdrive by any stretch of the imagination but can add plenty of warmth, musical heat, and when used in tandem with the boost, it'll get that amplifier into the aerobic zone and in a mind to belt out the harmonics and let your solos sing. 

So there you go, two very usable effects, essentials, both well-voiced, practical and they play nice together. Indeed, when combined, that's often when the magic really starts.

MusicRadar verdict: There is something elementary about pairing a Rangemaster-style boost paired with Plexi crunch; it stirs the blood of any guitarist weaned on the big beasts of classic rock. And yet the PlexiRanger is not just for the retro set. Anyone looking to get some extra heat and harmonic mojo from their tube amp will get a lot of joy from it.

Hands-on demos

Carl Martin

Specifications

  • ORIGIN: Denmark
  • TYPE: Drive and boost pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass
  • CONTROLS: Gain, Tone, Level, Frequency, Boost, Range, Lo-Cut switch, Plexi footswitch, Boost footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output, standard Remote
  • POWER: 9V DC adaptor (not supplied) 100mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 120 (w) x 95 (d) x 56mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Carl Martin